Rochester, New York’s Lupis is band with a sound and fury amidst a controlled chaos. It’s magnificent. Clearly, the editor knew who the right person for the job was on this one. The inescapable tag I’m sure this band is met with is: “Grunge.” I have an ear and an appreciation for just about every kind of music, to be honest. It just so happens, however, that Grunge is of my favorite types of music, as reflected in a LOT of my personal taste and songwriting tendencies as a musician as well. And as I listen to this band, I feel like I can write this review with my eyes closed. Figuratively of course. Literally would just be silly. I digress. That covers the sound of the band so far, how about the ethos? Well, looking at the Spotify bio, it’s blank. Looking at the Bandcamp profile, the bio reads “The sort of people who nod on the telephone.” Ha! Perfect. Check that box. This is right up my alley. The band released a new album on October 28th to streaming services and on Bandcamp. Cynically titled, “Probably Fine,” it took all but about 1.43 seconds to make it into my Bandcamp Wishlist:
The band recorded the album DIY and initially intended on doing it live, which is in my opinion a cool method of tracking used to capture the energy of a band. However, they were met with some challenges along the way. They tracked some first takes in a barn an hour outside of Rochester. This was over a weekend in August that reached temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit causing much of the equipment they intended to use to malfunction. In particular, their Yamaha MQ1608 mixing board. By the band’s account all those tracks were scrapped and they returned at some point later in a now less than optimal cold weather (no heat in the barn either) situation to track only the drums, as the acoustics from the loft of the half empty barn yielded a nice reverb that they were happy with in the original tracking. As I listen to the record, I would wholeheartedly agree with that. The drums put a lot of energy out on the recording. However, what was first intended to be what I’ve been known to call the “Steve Albini” approach to tracking, was now a multi-tracking effort. The travel time it took to commute outside of where the band lived had also become logistically challenging, so the studio sessions were relocated to a sectioned off room of a mostly abandoned building, owned by a friend of the band. According to Spaz Spaziani, the guitarist and singer:
“It had been used for storage for someone, but it was clear no one had been in there for years. It smelled of mold, and mildew, and was full of thick layer of dust. We cleared out the room, and I got set up. We finished the guitar, bass and vocals there. It was a little tricky to record there, though, because there was almost certainly a mild carbon monoxide leak in the building. I couldn’t be in that room for more than a couple hours without starting to feel nauseated, dizzy, disorientated, and develop a headache.”
According to Spaziani, the final song on the final day was the song “Thrice.” A song that ends (vocally) with a long winded scream of “Don’t tell me how I feel,” a scream in which Spaziani says hear nearly passed out after tracking. Pretty fun fact to reference, happening at about the 4-minute mark of the song. Thus, wrapping a series of recording sessions that from my perspective, has me envisioning a punk-rock version of “A Hard Days Night,” but instead of jumping from zany gig to zany gig trying to get through the tour in one piece, the band is ushering from one malfunctioning studio space to the next trying to get the album done in one piece. Directed by Quinton Tarantino. It’s my imagination, stop judging me. Back to the point of it, all of that is some commitment don’t you think? And you do in fact hear every ounce of that commitment, anguish, and passion on the record.
The band is a three piece. Consisting of Spaz at lead guitar/vocals, Alex Bellanca at bass, and Justin O’Donoghue on drums. The album was recorded by Spaz, mixed by him and Joe Teresi. Mastering credits to Teresi. Additional musician credits include Eric Pinales on Cello in the track “Here with You.” Overall, even though it wasn’t tracked in the original way intended, I am of the opinion that the energy the band was trying to project comes through very well. If you like heavier punk and grunge, this is an easy record to jam front to back. I’ve done a few laps on it myself now already. Now comes the part that I think I can relate to them quite a bit on and that’s the Nirvana comparison. Yes, Nirvana is indubitably an influence. I make mention of it, because that is a central tendency around many reviews of my work and feedback I’ve received as well. I have no qualms about it personally, I love Nirvana. Such an important band to me for so many reasons. Scrolling through the band’s Facebook page, I see a post in which the band did an “okay just this one time since you guys say we sound like them” cover show of Nirvana tunes recently. So, there you go! Own it. It’s okay to be influenced by Nirvana, I think. You’d be pretty hard pressed to make the case that Nirvana weren’t, oh I don’t know, influential? However, I do also realize that does tend to be a “go-to” reference for many once grunge is detected musically. I get that. Much for good reason, but I would offer that if you are invested into the genre to a certain degree, there are a lot of crossover influences to consider. In listening to this band, I would also highly recommend Lupis for fans of Tad and Babes in Toyland. They incur reference to Future Leaders of the World and The Exies for me too, albeit I would argue that Lupis is heavier and deeper rooted in hardcore punk that those two. I also get vibes of late 90s/ early 2000’s Local H in there as well. Congrats on the new album and release, it sounds killer!
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